Album: Failure//Control – EP
What causes violence in people? There’s a war almost as old as the chicken vs. the egg—a dispute as to whether people become aggressive and violent by nature or by nurture. Do men and women become angry, misanthropes because of their surroundings, or by the people who define their surroundings? There is just as much evidence supporting one camp as there is the other; entire lineages of lurid acts of visceral loathing versus localized instances of extreme abuse and aggression. Philadelphia’s resident beatdown band of brothers Varials propose an alternative ideology with their sophomore EP, Failure//Control. People become violent no matter who their parents were or where they come from the very second they are exposed to these Pennsylvanian punishers. Failure//Control is a hard hitting lesson in savagery and brutality that would turn Mahatma Gandhi into a war criminal. Varials exercise neither restraint or remorse on Failure//Control, a nearly 20 minute onslaught of beatdown hardcore turned deathcore at its finest.
If one word could describe Varials’ instrumental onslaught on the listener, it would be intense. Failure//Control doesn’t let up—not for a second—in its aggravated assault on the listener’s sanity. Where some might describe the quintet’s musicianship as basic or simple, they would be missing he greater picture: Varials do not aim to impress the listener with floral, flashy instrumentation (save some of Sean Rauchut’s ravaging percussion). They aim to synchronize with savage efficacy to provide aggression in its most base and bloodthirsty form. Rauchut’s drumming is the engine to Varials’ hate-driven vehicle. Feeding off of bassist Mike Foley’s furious grooves, Rauchut gives Failure//Control its sole sense of technicality. “308,” for example, sees Rauchut’s drumming at its snappiest and most dramatic, barking back and forth with Foley’s grimy grooves to give the track—and, by extension, the EP—a prolapse-inducing low end. Meanwhile, the two bounce and boom like cannons made out of rubber on the introductory “Deadweather,” a track that is bound to get snared in the listener’s skull for what feels like centuries. Rauchut and Foley are the firmament for guitarists James Hohenwarter and Shane Lyons to soar across, steamrolling anything that stands in their path with the dual dynamos of dissonant destruction that are their riffs and chugs. Tracks like “Common Enemies” showcase Hohenwarter and Lyons at their finest, beating the listener senseless with straightforward beatdown grooves and riffs, but not fearing to stray into slamming, hyper-heavy downtempo deathcore territory towards the end of the track to truly hammer it home. Varials’ instrumental dynamic is far from technical, but it doesn’t need to be: it aims to hit hard, and more than readily succeeds at that.
Not to be outdone by the band’s bold and brutal musicianship, the vocals refuse to let up. If there was ever to be a voice of pure, brooding hatred, it would be that of frontman Travis Gilberti. Gilberti unleashes hell with a grisly, grating scream throughout Failure//Control that does justice to both aspects of the band’s magnificently heavy dynamic. Tracks such as the bouncy “Deadweather” or anthemic “Ether” see Gilberti chanting along, substantiating his sinister shout with remarkable endurance and power. However, more stinging and punctual displays of aggression “No Idols” and “Savage” see Gilberti focusing on a more diverse vocal delivery that shoots any thought of monotony right out of the sky. “Savage” is true to its name, with Gilberti tearing out the listener’s throat and cramming it in their mouth, just as “No Idols” is intense and driving enough to become a modern hardcore anthem. Just as ferocious as his vocals are Gilberti’s lyrics, as each one is an engrossing lecture in languishing hatred and bitterness—making his effort on Failure//Control comprehensively crushing.
Failure//Control is violence at its most pure from beginning to end. Every aspect of Varials’ latest release seems geared to outdo their previous endeavors, refining their unique blend of hardcore and skin-peeling, heavier-than-hell deathcore into something that defies categorization with the exception of it being heavy. Catchier than the clap at parts, and completely crushing, Varials succumb to neither monotony nor meddling, irksome laziness. Their latest EP is more than just a force to be reckoned with—it is the force that puts all others to shame, proving that violence is a product of neither nature nor nurture. Rather, it is the product of red-hot anger that has been kept in the dark, brooding and blossoming until—in the form of Failure//Control—it sees the light of day, and incinerates everything it touches.
For Fans Of: Emoira, Rex, Portrayer, Suspect
By: Connor Welsh